A Classic Ash Wednesday Post from our Archives #2: Seek the Lord and Live

March 5, 2014

Back in 2006 at the original site for Lent & Beyond, we hosted a Lent “blog carnival” with daily entries for Lent from various Anglican bloggers.  It was a great series.   I had the joy of penning the Ash Wednesday devotional for that series.  While clicking through some of our Lent links compilations the other day to make sure the links were still working, I happened to reread my post from 8 years ago, and I found the Lord using what I’d written then to  challenge me afresh.

So here’s an excerpt and the link to that Ash Wednesday devotional from 2006.

Seek the LORD and live…

Those are the opening words of the OT daily office reading from Amos for today, Ash Wednesday (ECUSA 1979 lectionary). I find it interesting that we have a call to choose life on a day when the liturgy during the imposition of ashes reminds us of our mortality:

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

and: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

The theme of finding life through submission and obedience to in the Lord continues in the NT lesson from Hebrews 12, in verse 9:

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Do we truly believe that in Christ is life, and that to live we must submit to our heavenly Father?

I don’t just mean this in terms of salvation and eternal life and the debates about apologetics, and the uniqueness of Christ in which we so often get caught up. I am asking myself this question today and challenging each of us to ask it of ourselves daily throughout Lent. Is Christ our life? Are we willing to submit our wills and desires to God? To choose to do what pleases Him? Do we believe that the joy, life and freedom He offers, that we find in yielding to and obeying Him is better, more satisfying than the empty pleasures of this world?

You can read the whole entry here.


A Classic Ash Wednesday Post from our Archives #1: Matt Kennedy on Lenten Disciplines

March 5, 2014

Back in 2005, the Rev. Matt Kennedy, an Anglican rector in Binghamton NY wrote a short article about Lent for his parish newsletter, which we posted on the original site for Lent & Beyond.  I think it’s one of the best pieces for Lent I’ve ever read in terms of really solid practical advice (for believers AND non-believers) about how to choose a Lenten discipline…

This year (2014) Fr. Matt has produced a short video (7 minutes) about Lent which covers some of the same ideas, which is highly recommended.  But I wanted to repost Fr. Matt’s original 2005 article as well, since it’s one of my favorite entries from the last 10 years.  Who can forget the memorable line: “if you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate”?!

Here’s an excerpt from Fr. Matt’s 2005 article:

For believers, Lent can be a time when you actively work to rid yourself of sins that have grown into habits and/or addictions (yes, this should be something we do all year round but it’s helpful to have a time like Lent set aside for that very purpose).

So, rather than thinking about what vice to give up or what discipline to add, a better place to start is prayer. Ask God to search your heart and bring to your mind those habits of thought, word, and/or deed that displease him most. (Sometimes what is displeasing in your life will be so obvious that you won’t even need to pray, you’ll just know. The Holy Spirit living inside you will have made it abundantly clear already). When you ask this in sincerity you can be sure that God will provide you with an answer.

This answer will tell you whether you need to add a discipline or be rid of a behavior or attitude. If, for example you believe that God wants you to be more committed to studying scripture, then you should probably consider adding personal or group bible study to your routine. If on the other hand you believe God is displeased with the amount of time you spend on the internet or the kinds of things you look at on-line, then you should probably consider cutting out or down on your computer usage or installing some parental control program to keep you accountable (even if, especially if, you’re a parent).

In other words, your Lenten discipline should not be arbitrary. If you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate. Give up whatever it is that leads you into lustful behavior. And don’t just give it up for Lent, use Lent to give it up forever. Let the Lord know that you are committed to turning from the sin he has shown you and then ask him to help you in your task though the power of his Holy Spirit.

If you are not a believer then you don’t just need to turn around a habit or an attitude. God is calling you to turn your life around. He loves you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in your place. Through Jesus, God is offering you the opportunity to be forgiven and made clean. No more guilt, no more burden, no more despair. In Jesus Christ you will have life and have it abundantly. It’s your choice. If you’re tired of living life apart from God, then let him know. You can say it like this:

“Lord Jesus I am a sinner. I’m lost and on my own I can’t find my way home. But you died on the cross to save me from the eternal consequences of my sins and today, this very moment, I repent and I put my life in your hands. I want to be with you forever. Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make your home there. I give my life to you. I pray this in your holy Name. Amen.”

You can read the full entry here.


An Advent Choral Service with the O Antiphons in your own living room

December 17, 2013

For $10 you can download a wonderful Advent recording and enjoy a traditional Advent Choral Service in your own home:

An Advent Procession based on The Great "O" Antiphons

at iTunes

at Amazon (CD and MP3 versions)

This album, An Advent Procession based on the Great O Antiphons, by the Choirs of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, contains recordings of all the O Antiphons, Scripture readings, Collects and a number of traditional Advent hymns as well.

Listening to this is truly beautiful and a wonderful way to be still and meditate on Jesus in this final week before Christmas.  There are 34 total tracks (for about an hour of worship.)  The service is arranged in chronological order for each of the seven O Antiphons, so you could listen to an Antiphon, a Scripture, a Collect and a hymn each day for the next seven days of Advent.

***

Other recordings containing the O Antiphons include:

Advent Carols from Saint Johns (iTunes)

And Comes the Day: Carols and Antiphons for Advent (Queens College Cambridge)  (iTunes)


Celebrating 5000 entries at Lent and Beyond!

April 17, 2012

It was just over a year ago that Jill wrote a post celebrating 4000 entries at Lent & Beyond.  Today, we reach the 5000 post milestone on this version of the blog.  (Actually we’ve published more than 8500 posts, when you count in the 3500+ posts at our original blogsite!)

It’s fun that I’m in a short season of renewed blogging and get to commemorate it myself and highlight some of my favorite posts from the past 8 years!  I never could have imagined when I first started a Lent prayer campaignand associated blog in Feb. 2004 all that God would do in the years ahead, or that I’d still be blogging, albeit sporadically, 8 years later.

Read the rest of this entry »


RISEN! The Strife is O’er, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

April 11, 2012

reposted from 2009, with an updated music link

resurrection3(art credit: Web Gallery of Art)

***

LISTEN: The Strife is O’er

(Truro Cathedral Choir, from the Album Easter Joy, iTunes link)

***

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst: Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to Thee: Alleluia!


The Scourging

April 5, 2012

*Music links updated 2014*

Mark 15:15:  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus,
he delivered him to be crucified.

The Scourging

art credit:  Rubens “The Flagellation of Christ”

***

Listen: By His Wounds (Brian Littrell, Mac Powell, Mark Hall & Steven Curtis Chapman, from the 2007 album Glory Revealed, iTunes link)

(There should be an embedded audio file above and a play arrow, but sometimes WordPress has been balky recently with embedded audio.  Should the song not be showing up, or not playing, you can find a YouTube version here.)

 

Listen: Stricken Smitten and Afflicted (Fernando Ortega, from his 2005 Album Beginnings, iTunes link)

(There should be an embedded audio file above and a play arrow, but sometimes WordPress has been balky recently with embedded audio.  Should the song not be showing up, or not playing, you can find a YouTube version here.)

 

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis a true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Christ the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

Thomas Kelly, 1804

[reposted from 2009]


St. Gregory the Great: Prayer of Acclaim to the Suffering Christ

April 5, 2012

[reposted from 2007 and 2009]

Prayer of Acclaim to the Suffering Christ

O Lord, you received affronts without number from your blasphemers, yet each day you free captive souls from the grip of the ancient enemy.

You did not avert your face from the spittle of perfidy, yet you wash souls in saving waters.

You accepted your scourging without murmur, yet through your mediation you deliver us from endless chastisements.

You endured ill-treatment of all kinds, yet you want to give us a share in the choirs of angels in glory everlasting.

You did not refuse to be crowned with thorns, yet you save us from the wounds of sin.

In your thirst you accepted the bitterness of gall, yet you prepare yourself to fill us with eternal delights.

You kept silence under the derisive homage rendered you by your executioners, yet you petition the Father for us although you are his equal in divinity.

You came to taste death, yet you were the Life and had come to bring it to the dead. Amen.

— Saint Gregory the Great

source: http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0540.htm

Art Credit: Web Gallery of Art, Tiziano, The Scourging of Christ, Oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome


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